asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) how many reserve pilots in all are available for service as trained naval and military pilots respectively in case of emergency, how many naval and military officers on the regular establishment of those two services are trained pilots able to fly at the present time; how far have the pilots recently trained by the Air Ministry been able to satisfy the requirements of the Navy and Army when attached for duty;
(2) how many fully-trained pilots are available for service with the Army and the Navy, respectively; whether the proportion of trained pilots for artillery work, both naval and military, is adequate to the demand, irrespective of trained executive officers of the Navy and Army being lent for the purpose; and whether the Board of Admiralty and the General Staff have expressed their entire satisfaction with the facilities offered by the Air Ministry?
All the 1,862 qualified flying officers now serving in the General Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force are available for service, either with the Navy or Army, or independently. The majority have had experience of working with one or both of the two other Services, but they are not allocated in distinct classes to Navy cooperation and Army co-operation work, nor to artillery work, as a sub-division of either class, the policy of the Air Council being to give all officers the widest possible training and experience. The importance of having a nucleus of officers with highly-specialised qualifications for this kind of work is, however, fully recognised, and two schools, one for Army and one for Naval co-operation, exist for the purpose. Reserve pilots for an emergency will be found, in due course, from the present short service commission officers who pass to the reserve. I have no information as to the number of trained pilots who are still on the active list of the Navy and Army, to which they returned after service with the Royal Air Force in the War. The allocation of air forces for co-operation duties with the Navy and Army is agreed annually between the Air Council and the Board of Admiralty and Army Council when the annual Estimates of the Air Ministry are under consideration. Though the Navy and the Army are satisfied with the qualifications of the pilots when trained, I fear that, in these days of strict economy, it is hardly in the power of any Government Department, for the moment, entirely to satisfy the demands made upon it, whether from within or from without.